Bathwater

He woke with a start.
He wasn’t sure what the time of day it was, or how long he had been asleep.
He rubbed his face and pulled some grey shorts up over his erection.
He noticed her handbag on the floor, her shoes by the door, her earrings next to the overflowing ashtray.

“Fuck.”

He found her in the bathroom.

She was in the bathtub.
She sat with her legs brought up to her chest, her left cheek on her knees.
She sat in eight inches of cold water; the water was murky, the water was grey; the tap released a drip every three seconds.

He noticed that feathery angel wings hadn’t sprouted from her back.
He decided that her skin was too pink for her to be dead.
He left her, and went to get a beer.
He returned and sat down on the closed toilet lid; he had a can of Stella.

“Alright?”

He was dreading her reply.
He lit a cigarette.
He waited for her to speak.

“Yeah, babe. You?”
“Yeah, I’m good. You alright though, yeah?”
“Yeah.”

She spoke in a whisper; she didn’t move.
She wanted to ask him something.
She sat in silence and counted to seventy-three, and then said,

“Do you think that love will tear us apart?”

He looked at her through half-shut eyes.
She thought he was the most beautiful thing she had ever seen.

“Nah,” came his reply.

She smiled inside, but not on the outside.
She slowly dragged her arm and dangled it over the edge of the tub.
She had her hand turned out towards him.

He didn’t hold it.
He put his beer can in her hand.
She took a swig.

“Love can’t tear us apart because there is no love.

I’ll never love you.

Never have, never will.”

She spat the Stella into the bathwater; it added colour to it – piss colour, but colour nonetheless.
She resumed her previous position, her head on her knees, her arms wrapped tightly around her.

He chucked his cigarette butt into the water and it fizzled.

“Who’s that anyway? Shakespeare?”

She hated him.
She hated herself.

“No. Joy Division.”

He stood up.

“Oh. Right. Yeah.”

He began to walk out of the bathroom.
He stopped by the door.

“And make sure you wash that knife and put it back in the kitchen once you’ve finished with it. That’s the one my landlady uses to cut her grapefruit in the morning.”

She didn’t reply.
He didn’t leave.

“I’m going to bed.”

She couldn’t reply.
He left.

The bathwater turned a lot more colourful that night.

The landlady had to use a different knife for her grapefruit in the morning.

And while love might’ve torn her apart, it would be guilt that tore him.

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